Vegetable planting guide : March.

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I’m asked regularly “What are you planting now?” or “What should I plant at this time of year?” So, I’ve decided that a monthly planting guide is the way to go. Obviously, climates vary across the globe during each month of the year, but I will try to cater for most of you whether you’re in the southern Hemisphere like us, or still snow covered in the Northern Hemisphere, let’s hope you start to thaw out soon!

We’ll divide the guide first by Hemisphere (northern or southern) and then by climate (cold, temperate and sub-tropical – tropical). In this way, most planting zones should be covered.

Southern Hemisphere : March

Broad beans and broccoli.

Broad beans and broccoli.

Those in cold climate regions of the southern hemisphere can start to think about brassicas. March is the time to plant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Asian greens, broad beans, carrots, spinach, kale, leek, lettuce, silverbeet, spring onion, radish, swede and turnip.

In southern hemisphere temperate areas, you can plant all of the above with the exception of spinach (still too warm) and the addition of beetroot, onions, parsnips and peas.

cucumber can be sown in sub tropical/tropical climates in March.
cucumber can be sown in sub tropical/tropical climates in March.

 

Those in the sub tropics and tropics can begin sowing beans, Broccoli, cabbage, chilli and capsicum, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, Kale, leek and lettuce, potatoes and sweet potatoes, silverbeet, spring onions, sweetcorn, yam and tomatoes.

Northern Hemisphere : March.

Rhubarb can be planted in a cold climate in March.

Rhubarb can be planted in a cold climate in March.

Northern Hemisphere cold climate folk can begin to dream of summer this month. In March you can plant Beetroot, cabbage, carrots, Asian greens, Lettuce, peas, potatoes, radish, silverbeet, squash, swede, turnip, tomatoes and rhubarb.
Those in a temperate climate can plant all of the above with the addition of Beans (dwarf and climbing), capsicum, cucumber, leek, spring onions, pumpkin, sweetcorn, sweet potato and tomatoes.

Sweetcorn can be planted in the sub tropics/tropics.

Sweetcorn can be planted in the sub tropics/tropics.

The lucky people in the sub tropics to tropics can really get planting in March, here’s what needs to go in. Beans (dwarf and climbing), beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, Asian greens, cucumber, carrots, capsicum, lettuce, eggplant, melon, spring onions, potatoes, squash and pumpkin, radish, sweetcorn, sweet potato and tomatoes.

It’s very difficult to cover every climactic region worldwide for a specific month, but hopefully, this guide will at least point you in the right direction and get you organising your plantings for the month ahead.
Happy gardening!

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Transform a weedy eyesore into a veg garden in a weekend.

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We all have areas of our garden that could do with a bit of a tidy up, we had one that seemed to be permanently covered in weeds and it made for a depressing view from our bedroom windows in the morning. Something had to be done, so we came up with this plan to turn it into an attractive and productive little garden area. It was fairly inexpensive and very quick to do, especially if you can rope in a few children to help out!

A desolate, weed prone area.

A desolate, weed prone area.

We began by purchasing some ready made raised vegie beds, but if you’re unable to buy these, you can make your own out of any suitable materials you have to hand, old apple crates also make great raised vegie beds. We moved them around until we were happy with what their final positions would be.

Level the area if needed.

Level the area if needed.

Next, we levelled the area with some sand so that our raised beds would sit nice and flat.

Rolling our the anti weed mat.

Rolling out the anti weed mat.

We rolled out anti weed matting across the entire area to hopefully cut down on the return of the dreaded weeds later on.

The raised beds on top of the weed mat.

The raised beds on top of the weed mat.

The raised beds were then placed in their final positions on top of the weed mat.

Time to shovel dirt!

Time to shovel dirt!

Next, we filled our raised beds with some soil suitable for growing veggies.

Raised beds ready to be planted up.

Raised beds ready to be planted up.

We planted our raised beds up with a variety of different veg, including cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, radishes and eggplant.

The transformation is complete.

The transformation is complete.

Finally, we covered the weed mat in a thick layer of gravel to complete the transformation.

So now we another productive area in our garden and we’ve banished the ugly view fro our bedroom too.
If you can think of an area in your garden that could do with some TLC, why not try this simple idea.

A quick guide to shade tolerant vegetables.

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The perceived wisdom about growing veg is that it needs full sun for at least six hours a day. However, you needn’t despair if you have a fairly shaded garden, there is some veg that will grow with fewer hours of sun.

As a general rule, veg that you grow for it’s fruits, for example, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, eggplant etc. will need their full six hours of sun to be really productive. However, plants that you grow for it’s leaves, lettuce and spinach, and roots, carrots and beetroot, will grow on as little as four hours a day. Also peas and beans are fairly shade tolerant and will produce well with fewer sunny hours than other veg.

Here’s a quick rundown for you.

Leafy veg such as lettuce and spinach.

Leafy veg such as lettuce and spinach.

Leafy veg, such as lettuce and spinach need only three to four hours of sun a day. The same applies to other leafy veg such as Asian greens and Kale.

Many herbs will grow in partially shaded conditions.

Many herbs will grow in partially shaded conditions.

There are many herbs that will grow in less than perfect conditions. If you can’t spare a spot in full sun all day, you should grow mint, parsley, oregano and chives.

carrots don't mind reduced sun hours.

carrots don’t mind reduced sun hours.

Root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot and radishes will cope with four to five hours of sun a day, although they will take longer to mature than the same plants grown in six or more hours of sun a day.

peas and beans will grow in partial shade.

peas and beans will grow in partial shade.

Another great crop that will get by on four hours of sun a day are peas and beans, although, as in the case of root veg, they will be slower growing than the same crop grown in six hours of full sun a day.

So, you can see from our short guide that it’s absolutely possible to grow a great variety of different vegetables and herbs even if your garden has less than ideal conditions in the sunny hours department. Start sowing that lettuce now!

How to grow : Potatoes.

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Potatoes would have to be the absolutely best vegetable there is, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that there is virtually no one who doesn’t like to eat potatoes in one form or another, yet, I know quite a few people that grow their own veg but have never grown potatoes. I don’t know why this is, maybe they’re not sure how, or they think that they don’t have the space? Well, I’m here to tell you that growing potatoes is really easy and there are ways to grow them in small spaces too.

Leave your seed potatoes somewhere bright for a week or so until they 'chit'.

Leave your seed potatoes somewhere bright for a week or so until they ‘chit’.

Potatoes are best grown from certified disease free seed potatoes, but if you have never grown potatoes before, you could use a few shop bought ones that have sprouted in the pantry and plant them in a large container. They can be planted from late winter to early spring. In order to give your potatoes a good start, leave them on a sunny windowsill for a couple of weeks until they start to sprout, this is called ‘chitting’. Not all gardeners chit their potatoes and they will still grow if you plant them without chitting, they’ll just take a little longer.

Dig a trench to plant your potatoes.

Dig a trench to plant your potatoes.

Once your potatoes have chitted, you’re ready to plant. If you’re planting in the ground, dig a trench about 10cm (4 ins) deep, a bit of well rotted manure in the bottom will give your potatoes a flying start as they are heavy feeders. Put your potatoes in the trench about 30 cm (12 ins) apart and cover them with a little soil.

You can easily grow potatoes in a large container if you have no space in your garden.

You can easily grow potatoes in a large container if you have no space in your garden.

As the potato plants grow, cover all but the tops of the plants with soil, the more you cover the stems of the plant, the more potatoes you will have at harvest time. The same principles apply to potatoes grown in a container, simply plant your potatoes in a small amount of soil in the bottom of the container and then fill the container with more soil as the plants grow.

harvest your potatoes once the plants have flowered and begun to die back.

harvest your potatoes once the plants have flowered and begun to die back.

Your potatoes will be ready to harvest once the plants have flowered and begun to die back, dig them up carefully, trying not to stab any (virtually impossible, but try anyway). If you are growing in a container, simply tip it upside down to harvest!
Don’t wash any potatoes that you’re planning to store as they will not store as long once they’re clean, try to store them in a cool dark place and never store the with apples as the ethylene gas that they emit will make your potatoes rot.
So, if you haven’t tried growing potatoes before, why not give them a go? They’re extremely low maintenance,  you can grow them in a container if you’re short of space and, in the case of all home grown veg, they taste fantastic!

How to grow : Garlic.

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Garlic is an essential ingredient in so many of the meals we cook here on Franger Farm. Every year, we try to plant enough to see us through to the following year, and if I’m honest, we don’t always get it right. The good news is that it’s really simple to grow and we’ll tell you how.

Separate your cloves for planting.

Separate your cloves for planting.

Garlic takes quite a few months to grow, it’s planted in the Autumn/Fall and harvested in late spring or early summer. You can grow an entirely new bulb of garlic from a single clove, simply separate your cloves to get them ready for planting.

plant pointed end up.

plant pointed end up.

Garlic likes a sunny position in well drained soil, you should plant the cloves pointed end up about 15cm/3ins apart. It doesn’t like competition from weeds, so make sure that you keep the area around your garlic nice and weed free.

The garlic will send up shoots quickly.

The garlic will send up shoots quickly.

It won’t take long for your planted cloves to send up shoots and the bulb development to begin.
It’s time to harvest in the late spring or early summer when the foliage has died back. It’s fairly easy to loosen the bulbs with a small hand fork to harvest them, simply brush of the dirt, allow to dry a little and store until needed.

Brush of the dirt and allow to dry before storing.

Brush of the dirt and allow to dry before storing.

It doesn’t take a lot a room to grow quite a large crop of garlic and the flavour is far superior to shop bought garlic. Find yourself a nice little sunny spot and get growing.

Space savers : growing lettuce in hanging baskets.

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Here at Franger Farm, we are lucky to have a very large suburban block of an acre in size. A large amount of it, however, can’t be easily cultivated because it’s steeply sloping or covered in bush, we are also very enthusiastic veg growers and still find ourselves running out of space. Many of you will have much less space than us, but you can make use of the space under your eaves by planting hanging baskets with lettuce.

Water storage crystals will stop your basket drying out.

Water storage crystals will stop your basket drying out.

First, select a large hanging basket with a liner, the larger the basket, the better, as it won’t dry out as quickly, always a potential problem for pots and baskets. To help your basket retain water even more efficiently, you can add some water storage crystals. These swell up with water when they are wet and then release it into soil if it starts to dry out.

Plant with a mixture  of seedlings and seeds.

Plant with a mixture of seedlings and seeds.

Your baskets will be more productive if you add a pelletized manure to the potting mix, along with the crystals, when you plant them up. To give your baskets a really long productive time, you can plant them with a mixture of seedlings and seeds. As your seedlings are nearly used up, your grown from seed lettuce should be ready to harvest.

Hang close to the kitchen.

Hang close to the kitchen.

Once your basket is planted, water in well and then hang on a sturdy hook. You could make life really easy for yourself and hang the basket right outside your kitchen so that you can grab lettuce quickly, whenever you need it.

Fresh lettuce.

Fresh lettuce.

Give this simple idea a go, you’ll love having fresh lettuce right outside your door without having to find any extra space for it.